Wayne County air monitors installed to collect data, inform citizens about poor quality

It's not just about the food people eat or the water they drink, Darren Riley says. 

"We gotta think about the air we breathe, right?" the JustAir Solutions founder said. "On average, the human breathes 20,000 breaths per day. Think about it. All that air that's coming to your lungs and your bloodstream, let’s be proactive the way we think about the food we eat and the water we drink."

Wayne County agrees and on Wednesday helped unveil 100 air quality monitors to help give residents in some of the more environmentally-sensitive parts of the county a way of tracking what they're breathing.

Helping people get real-time information on air quality was the short-term goal, but Riley says bigger goals are behind the new monitors: data.

"How can we bring solutions and measure a real return on investment on solutions that can really intervene to help mitigate some of that pollution," he said. 

Armed with better data, officials and the citizens they govern can better point to where, when, and how severe air quality issues are in metro Detroit. The county-wide network will be accessible through the JustAir app, which texts subscribers alerts about if the quality in their area is poor. 

Soon, data will be able to do more than just that.

"All those monitors come from different suppliers, different types of monitors. Some measure different pollutants and all the data is synchronized to our database and our back-end software," he said.

And the monitors are just the first step, Warren Evans says.

"Soon we will have portable monitors that kids and seniors can actually carry with them, so that they can breathe when they feel like the air quality is problematic and will trigger a reading on those things that will give us further information," according to the county executive.


Detroit entrepreneur's new app JustAir tracks air quality, sends updates with health advice

Air quality issues will only continue and after multiple rounds of wildfire smoke enveloped Detroit this summer, Darren Riley says the need for better data that's more accessible is badly needed.

One of the individuals at the monitors' unveiling was a well-known face in environmental activism: Theresa Landrum. She was over the moon by the progression.

"From 30 years ago, someone is finally listening to what has been happening," she said. "We know we have to coexist with industry but there's a greener, cleaner way that we can do this. And with them providing the monitors so that we can get real-time data, that's our proof."